November 3, 2013

Every NBA player to have ever visited India - The Comprehensive List


While India may still be a step (or five) away from producing an basketball player capable of sending to the NBA, it hasn't stopped NBA players from coming to India. India has great potential as a basketball market, and over the past half a decade or so, the NBA has come to realize and support that potential. Dozens of NBA players have already stepped foot on Indian shores in recent years, most of them sent by the NBA itself, but many others visited with other personal and professional agendas. Apart from imparting leading basketball training clinics, many of the visits were also highlighted by charity events.

I've been keeping a tally of these visits ever since the inception of this blog. Looking ahead to the future, and it seems that the number of these visits will only increase - the new Indian-born owner of the Sacramento Kings Vivek Ranadive has even dreamt of bringing the entire squad for an exhibition game in India.

So, before the numbers get too out of hand, here is the running list of every NBA player - past and present - to have visited India. Although I have scoured recent history comprehensively, there is no doubt that I may have missed visits several older visits, or visits done in complete privacy without any media fanfare (for example, Phil Jackson may or may not have spent the late 70s trekking across the Himalayas). Feel free to contact me to update the list with any such cases.

Kevin Garnett: October 2006 - In his last year's as a Timberwolf, KG took part in an adidas promotional trip through Asia which seemed to be years ahead of its time. He visited schools and adidas stores New Delhi and Bangalore, and stopped by the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Dominque Wilkins, Sam Perkins, Ronny Turiaf, Kyle Korver, Pat Garrity, Linton Johnson: July 2008 - The NBA's Basketball Without Borders Asia camp was held in New Delhi in the 2008 summer. A group of former and current NBA players - headlined by none other than the Human Highlight Film himself - came to India for the event. Although they were there for coaching programmes at BWB in New Delhi, they also visited the Taj Mahal. Korver started his trip in Kolkata, where he took part in charity work with the foundation left behind by Mother Teresa.

Robert Parish, Marty Conlon: November 2008 - Former Celtic great Parish and retired big man Conlon came to Mumbai for the NBA/WNBA Hoop School programme. Conlon, who works with the NBA office, has made several more visits to India.

AC Green: April 2009 - The former Laker came to Mumbai to inaugurate a basketball court in Nagpada.

Baron Davis: July 2009 - When B-Diddy was with the Clippers, he took a summer trip to India to kick off the NBA Jam event at a mall in Mumbai.

Dikembe Mutombo: December 2009 - The fearsome Mount Mutombo himself was in Mumbai and Chennai to unveil new basketball courts in both cities.

Marty Conlon: July 2010 - Conlon returned to India to assist the NBA Challenge event in Bangalore.

Dwight Howard: August 2010 - Howard was still with the Magic when he made his trip to India, and, at its time, it was the most important visit by an NBA player yet. The NBA sent him to the Delhi-NCR region and to Bangalore for a promotional trip. Dwight took part in fan events at malls, visited a zoo, and held a clinic in Bangalore with India's national team.

Pau Gasol: August 2010 - Just weeks after Howard, the NBA sent another big All Star - Pau Gasol. Gasol went to Delhi and Mumbai, taking part in NBA Cares programmes and holding clinics in schools in both cities.

George Gervin: February 2011 - The Iceman - along with WNBA star Katie Smith - came to India in a trip sponsored by the US Department of State and the NBA. They held clinics and charity events in Delhi and Mumbai.

Shawn Bradley: March 2011 - Quietly, without any fanfare, the former NBA center volunteered at a leprosy colony in the Thottanaval village in Tamil Nadu as behalf of the Rising Star Outreach.

Brandon Jennings: May 2011- While still with the Bucks, the NBA sent Jennings to Mumbai and he also made the first official NBA visit to Pune. He Attended Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA National Skills Challenge Finals in Mumbai, held clinics in both cities, and took part in charity events with Magic Bus.

Kenny Natt: May 2011-June 2012 - More people perhaps remember him as a coach, but Kenny Natt was also a journeyman NBA player for most of the 80s. After serving as interim head coach of the Kings, he came to India as the Head Coach of the Senior National Men's squad. Over the year he spent in the country, Natt traveled to several cities attending training camps, tournaments, and coaches' coaching programmes. He held clinics with the national squad of course and the junior squads too. He led India to the FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, China, in 2011. And much, much more.

Steve Smith: September 2011 - While working with NBA TV, Smith came to Delhi-NCR to help inaugurate NBA Jam and also spend some time working out with India's U16 squad.

Muggsy Bogues: January 2012 - The NBA's shortest ever player came to New Delhi where he interacted and trained young players in local schools.

Raja Bell: July 2012 - Bell was in New Delhi, where he trained with India’s National Men’s Team and participated in a variety of fan events and basketball development programmes.

Robert Horry: September 2012 - Mr. Big Shot came for the launch of NBA 3x tournaments to Delhi-NCR.

Luc Longley: October 2012 - The former Chicago Bull Center visited India for the Finals of the first-ever Mahindra NBA Challenge National Championship in New Delhi.

Jerome Williams, Paul Grant, Anthony Bonner: December 2012 - The Junkyard Dog Jerome Williams and a couple of retired NBA journeymen joined an American squad called 'Superpower' to take part in the legendary Savio Cup Tournament in Mumbai. They won the tournament.

Chris Bosh: July 2013 - In the most-hyped trip made by an NBA player to India to date, Chris Bosh visited Mumbai amidst much fanfare. The "#NamasteBosh" promotions laid the groundwork for this big visit, which Bosh made soon after capturing his second NBA title with the Heat. Bosh visited sites around Mumbai, announced new season of NBA Jam, held development camps, visited schools and colleges and took part in charity event. He also made a personal visit to the Taj Mahal.

Horace Grant, Ron Harper, Peja Stojacovic September 2013 - The three former champions from various squads came to Mumbai for the NBA Jam Finals. Grant visited New Delhi as well.

Muggsy Bogues: Feburary 2014 - Bogues returned to India to assist with the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Programme in Mumbai and Kochi.

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